The Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) is contemplating setting up an Australian branch to give value-added resellers, customers and vendors a local and, more importantly, a neutral point of reference for storage education and advice.
A steering committee of vendor representatives has been established to determine the goals, agenda and budget of the Australian chapter -- or whether it should kick off at all. At this stage, EMC representative Mark Heers said the need for a local office is "a perception we're getting from customer feedback".
It is hoped the group will have a more defined roadmap early in 2003.
Larry Krantz, chairman emeritus of SNIA, and former director and senior technologist for EMC in the US, said VARs have historically been the biggest beneficiaries of regionally based SNIA chapters, like those established in Japan in 2001 and China.
It gives them access to seminars on topics such as virtualisation, disaster recovery and storage management as well as training on specific hardware. SNIA's shared storage model -- a customer-driven concept that maps out how and where the technology of different vendors works together -- has been particularly successful, according to Krantz.
"Each vendor's story sounds great on its own, but when you put it together it's a different story altogether," he said.
From a customer perspective, an Australian-based SNIA would be a "great comfort" in terms of being a physically accessible resource and a vendor-neutral one.
"When it comes to storage, customers are lost in a plethora of options," said a technical advisor for Solution Evaluation, the only customer present at the introductory briefing yesterday.
"When you see vendors working within such an organisation [as SNIA] it's a great comfort because it demonstrates they are working within some ground rules."
Regional chapters are funded by vendors in the initial stages. Krantz estimates that Japan has swallowed US$300,000 worth of investment in its two years of operation, to great effect and advantage.
From an overall perspective, SNIA is not yet self-funding.